31 July 2006

B36 News - 31 July 2006

Today's top news: I'm alive!

The first leg of the journey went pretty uneventful - which is good! Mum's the word on exactly where I am, but I'll be able to talk about it when I get back to the IZ. I'll try and get some pictures to put up from the journey so far. The Wiz has been doing a good job watching my back.

Here's a quick roundup of good news from Iraq!

World Bank Loan to Iraq
The World Bank has decided to cut a check to the Government of Iraq in order to help repair the roads and bridges. You may be asking yourself, "So what? They'll fix a few pot holes. Whoopee." They'll be fixing $135 million worth of pot holes. Additionally, since this constitutes an investment in the future of Iraq, doesn't that lead one to believe that the folks at the World Bank think that Iraq is on the right track? I'm no banker, but I know that bankers don't loan to people (countries) who they don't think will be able to pay them back. Smells like progress to me!

Another Marine Survives Headshot
Helmets save lives! The Marine pictured here was shot in the head while photographing the search of a vehicle. It's his second tour in Iraq and the first time he's been shot. Let me thank every American who pays their taxes for contributing to purchasing this Marine's helmet. Your taxes are being well spent.

Iraqi Tip, Iraqi Action, Bad Guys Captured
Again, you may be saying, "So what? You caught two bad guys, there are hundreds more." Here's what: This is how it's done. Show me a better way to remove the cancer from a society and leave the society in tact and I'll consider this kind of story as insignificant. Until then, shut it, get out of the way, let us catch bad guys and make Iraq safe. If you're not happy with the pace then put down the remote and put on your kevlar.

30 July 2006

Ask A Troop Sunday

(This sign is posted by the pool on the Embassy compound. People who work for the Department of State are authorized to drink alcohol, however not while they have a weapon.)

Ask a Troop Sunday is back again. This is the open call for all questions, comments, rants, and idiocy that is otherwise prohibited. If you ask a question I'll do my best to answer it completly, but if the answer compromises OPSEC you'll get to see me do a little tap dance.

Remember, I'm going on a trip so it may be a couple days before I can reply, but I'll answer everyone who asks a question.

Fire away!

29 July 2006

World War III - Battle Lines

I just finished reading the newest post from Iraq the Model and I must say that I'm somewhat speechless. Omar explains the battle against Islamic extremists from his strategic perspective. As he sees it now, the task is to help the Western world realize what is really at stake.
And if Zawahiri, Nesrallah, Ahmedinejad and Sadr are calling upon extremists whether, Sunni or Shia, from all over the world to put aside their differences and unite in this war against the free world and to establish the Empire of terror from "Afghanistan to Andalus" then this is more than enough reason for you in the free world and for us who are struggling for our freedom to put aside our differences and disagreements and unite, from Sydney to Mumbai to Baghdad to Paris and London all the way till California, all must stand against this evil that is trying to destroy our world.
Read the whole thing.

B36 News - 29 July 2006

Before I get into the news from Iraq today, I'd like to start with a bit of personal news. Over the next two weeks I'll be sort of touring Iraq and won't necessarily be able to make daily posts for the news. Never fear though, I'll have a travel companion, the Wiz. The Wiz and I will be making our way through Iraq and will take a lot of pictures on the way.

And now, on with the good news!

If you understand the headline, then congratulations, you speak Armyese. We in the military love our acronyms. If you don't understand the headline, allow me to translate: During recent combat operations, Iraqi Security Forces supported by Coalition Forces killed 33 Anti-Iraqi Forces and suffered no killed or wounded themselves.
  • AIF = Anti-Iraqi Forces (bad guys)
  • ISF = Iraqi Security Forces (good guys)
  • CF = Coalition Forces (us guys)
  • KIA = Killed in Action
  • WIA = Wounded in Action
Innocent Iraqi Orphans Get Gifts
After finding out that there was an orphanage in the area, troopers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team arranged for school supplies, stuffed animals, and soccer balls to be delivered so they could hand them out during one of their routine patrols. As is pointed out in the full story, teaching the children that we're trying to help them is of immense benefit to everyone involved since these kids will be the ones running the country in the next 20 or so years.

Example of Progress
I talk a lot about the large scale progress and use statistics to show trends in attacks. This story is an example of what those numbers really mean, what they translate to on the ground. Shortly after taking out a terror cell in Mosul, Marines operating in the area noticed a sharp drop in the number of attacks. Combine this with the steady progress being made by the ISF in the region and you're witness to a whole lot of progress.
“The [ISF] are in the front of patrols and are moving through the city with a sense of confidence,” said Suleiman, 26, a native of Kearney, Neb. “They are making the decisions during the patrols and are not looking back at the Marines for that nod of approval like they used to.”
(full story by SGT Roe Seigle posted in comments)

28 July 2006

My Boots

A couple days ago I got my second issue of boots. I've been wearing my old pair for about 10 months now and I've got them pretty well broken in by now. Well, I put on the new pair at 0800 and by 1500 my dogs were barking (that means my feet hurt). I went back to my room and put my old pair back on and I can't quite explain how good it felt to put on my old stuff. It was like putting gloves on my feet.

The boot on the left is the old one and the right is the new one. Breaking boots in is, unfortunately, one of those things that you can't really cut corners on, you just have to stick your foot in it and walk around.

(must resist...the urge to.. joke about....sticking my foot up... Ok, I'm better now.)

That's not to say that there aren't techniques that you can use to help it go a bit faster. One technique that I think I'll use on this pair is to take a shower with them on and leave them on as long as I can.

On another note, I found an article on USAToday.com that talks about how terrorist snipers are trained. It cites a training manual that was posted on the internet that gives instructions to terrorists to target medics, tank drivers, and ... communications officers!

Now, this may seem strange, but I take that as quite a compliment. Of the many different targets on the battlefield, those in my line of work seem to be some of the more targeted. That means that the service we provide to the guys who pull triggers is being recognized for its effectiveness.

B36 News - 28 July 2006

I've been getting a small bit of criticism about my tag line of "If you're looking for fair and balanced news..." Allow me to clarify my point with this statement.

You can look at any major news outlet and you won't have to look far before you find a headline that points out how many people were killed, how they were killed, and where they were killed. Snuggled in to that same story you'll hear about half a dozen references to sectarian violence, civil war, and quagmire.

I publish good stories from Iraq. Stories that deal with the success of the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces because there is so much more of that than there is of the kind of stuff you hear on the nightly news. The imbalance between the bad news that is heard about back home and the good things that are happening on the ground here is staggering. This is my attempt to correct that imbalance.

Tip Prevents Attack
The people of Iraq are very concerned with removing the cancer of terror from their country and they are taking an active role in doing so. More than 260,000 have volunteered to serve in the Iraqi security forces, but their service doesn't stop there. Highlighting this fact is this story about an Iraqi citizen who provided a tip to the ISF that resulted in the capture of 58 pipe bombs, 3 RPGs, and two IEDs along with the 8 terrorists who were planning to use these weapons to attack a local police checkpoint. From start to finish, this was an Iraqi operation, a perfect example of what life will be like after the Coalition leaves.

All Kinds of Action
The link above will take you to the CENTCOM Press Release page. It's one of the many websites that I review every day to find the good news from Iraq. Today as I was browsing through the stories I found I was having difficulty picking which ones to highlight so I decided to put up a link to them all. When you look at this site check out how many stories there are about successful missions where bad guys were killed/captured and their weapons siezed. Ladies and gentlemen, this is progress.

Can I Go First?
Recently in his trial, Saddam requested that if (when) he is convicted that he be executed by firing squad rather than hang as is the custom here. My only comment is that I'd like to be selected to the team. Where do I sign up?

27 July 2006

B36 News - 27 July 2006

Sorry for the delay, had some problems with the network today. Jeeze who runs this thing anyway? ...oh, wait... nevermind...

Innocent Iraqi Mothers Get Aid
If you payed attention to PM Maliki's address to congress last night you noticed that he advocated employing Iraqi companies in the reconstruction effort in Iraq. Guess what, this is an example of what he was talking about. In the small town of Tal-Banat, the maternity ward of the local hospital was in desperate need of renovation. While Saddam was in power here, if something didn't please him or provide direct support to him, it was neglected and left to rot. This is not the case with the new government.

Operations Roundup Wednesday
In response to the threat posed by sectarian violence and death squads, we've applied more focus on finding and stopping these outlaw groups. The story I linked here is a summary of some of the operations that were conducted during the past few days aimed at securing Baghdad and taking out the bad guys:
  • 3 hostages freed
  • 9 death squad members captured
  • multiple caches found including one in-tact car bomb
Terrorists Caught Red-Handed
One of the most dangerous missions in the military right now is route clearance. Imagine a job where you go out every night trying to find IEDs and the bad guys who plant them. A bad day at work for most people is if their boss yells at them or if they have to work a couple hours later than usual. For these guys a bad day is when one of their buddies gets blown up rolling down a road they just cleared. How's that for perspective? This story is about a crew that did their job right and had a good day, a very good day.
The combat patrol was performing route clearance on its way back here when Staff Sgt. Epifanio Garcia, squad leader, HHC, 2nd BCT, and his crew, witnessed two men approximately one meter off the side of the road. The men saw the convoy and immediately began to run toward a culvert on the side of the road.
Garcia, from Fresno, Calif., called in what he saw to the rest of the convoy and ordered his driver to come to a halt. Before the vehicle came to a complete stop, Garcia was already out of the vehicle. His night-vision goggles fell off of his helmet, he said, but luckily he caught them in mid-air, tossed them into his vehicle and proceeded to chase the men.
(full story by Cpl. Michael Molinaro 2nd BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div. PAO)

26 July 2006

Maliki to Terrorists...

... SUCK IT!

I just watched PM Maliki speak to congress and here's what I got out of it:
  • He wants Iraq to be the "grave yard of terror and terrorists"
    • Questions?
  • He said that when ISF are trained and equipped that the Coalition mission will be finished
    • Psst, this means that we go home. Pay attention to this as it will probably be a leading indicator of 'when'.
I wanted to hold off on this and include it in the next B36 Video News show, but I think that in light of the recent criticism that has been dished out as a result of the Baghdad security situation that now is a good time to bring this to light.
This map shows the concentration of attacks on civilians in Iraq over the last month. Now, I may be reading into it a little too deeply, but it looks to me that securing Baghdad will go a long way towards eliminating violence in the entire country. And wasn't Operation Together Forward centered on Baghdad? Hmm, I wonder if the sudden uptake in terror attcks in Baghdad could be due to the fact that the bad guys executing these attacks realize that if we do secure Baghdad then their dark vision for Iraq's future will become impossible to bring to fruition.
(Note the period on my last sentence, it's not a question.)

Remember where you heard this, when we move the additional troops into Baghdad there will be more violence, there will be more death. If we let the operation go for a couple weeks, see the deaths, and run around bleating "quagmire" we will lose.

My plea is to let the operation run its course, be patient, let us find and kill the bad guys. We will accomplish our mission. We will secure Baghdad. We will defeat terrorists.

B36 News - 26 July 2006

I hesitate to comment on the current conflict in Israel & Lebanon as I'm not there to experience it. However, reaction to the recent bombing of the UN post that resulted in the death of at least 2 peace keepers is, in my opinion, very knee-jerk. I've been trying to think, what would be the benefit to Israel for intentionally targeting UN personnel? It's a question that I don't have an answer for, but that's not to say that there isn't one.

PM Maliki and President Bush met again, but this time in Washington rather than Baghdad. They stood shoulder to shoulder and left little doubt that they were intent on beating terrorism and creating a safe, soverign Iraq.

"I have informed the President about the national reconciliation plan, which I have launched in order to attract more Iraqi forces which have not engaged in the political process yet. This initiative represents, in addition to building the Iraqi armed forces, one of the initiatives that will contribute to choking terrorism and defeating terrorism in Iraq." - PM Maliki
One of the many things that I appreciate about President Bush is that he relies heavily on the military to make military-related decisions. I'm sure that everyone can identify with this in their own way, when people who make decisions that have a great impact on you ask for your advice in making those decisions it's very appreciated. This is a quality of a good leader.

"And I explained to the Prime Minister that I'll be making my decisions based upon the recommendations of General Casey. And, obviously, the violence in Baghdad is still terrible, and, therefore, there needs to be more troops. In other words, the commanders said, what more can we do; how best to address the conditions on the ground. And they have recommended, as a result of working with the Prime Minister, based upon his recommendation, that we increase the number of U.S. troops in Baghdad, alongside of Iraqi troops. And we're going to do that." - President Bush
Innocent Iraq Children Get Wheelchairs
Thanks to a generous donation by Wheelchairs for Kids and ROC Wheels, US troops were able to deliver 12 wheelchairs to crippled Iraqi children. Sorry, you won't get a body count or smoking HMMWV here.

Aziz showed up at the Q-West Base Complex Civilian-Military Operations Center with a wide grin and a unique story.The young boy told Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment and the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion about his family and his siblings, five of whom suffer from a degenerative disease.Abdul Karim, Bishra, Mahmoud, Ra’ad and Raija Salman, each received a new set of wheels in the form of pediatric wheelchairs donated by charitable organizations in the United States and delivered by the Soldiers June 29 here.
(full story by SGT Rachel Brune of 101st Sustainment BDE posted in comments)

Iraqis Leading Reconstruction
For all of the money, time, energy and raw material that the Coalition is pouring into rebuilding Iraq, nothing is as effective as Iraqis doing it themselves. This story highlights the success that can happen when local Iraqi leaders step up and take the lead in rebuilding their own cities.

“We are going into areas in the northern sector of our area of operations, finding a large population who are putting the pieces back together on their own,” said Zaino.
Last week, Zaino met with Sheik Mohammed for the first time and found he and the surrounding tribes were working on a joint project on their own to improve the water system in their area. Mohammed solicited help from the Obide, Guerarie, Jabor and Gueranie tribes, along with his own tribe to assist with the project.
Operation Together Forward - Phase II
As Coalition and ISF troops secure Baghdad the bad guys are fighting back. And that's ok. What's not ok is if we didn't rise to the challenge the bad guys pose and overcome them. If we curl up in the fetal position and complain that we shouldn't send more troops then the bad guys win. This is a necessary step in securing the city that is at the heart of victory for both sides. As MG Caldwell said, Baghdad is a "must win."
This brings up an interesting point. What about the rest of Iraq? The rest of Iraq is very peaceful, only 4 of Iraq's 18 provinces experience more than 1 attack per day. Could it be because Baghdad is the terrorist's last stand?

25 July 2006

B36 News - 25 July 2006

I couple days ago I was watching the news and I saw an interview with someone who was upset about some policy that had been enacted at her workplace and she was trying to use an analogy to explain her frusteration. I don't remember exactly what the policy was, but it required her to wear a shirt bearing some sort of message that she felt cast her in a negative light. The analogy she was trying to apply was that the message on this shirt was as bad as if it had said, "I'm an Iraqi."

I sincerely hope that Americans realize that Iraqis are our friends. They're good people and want to beat the terrorists and extremists just as much as, if not more than, we do. Sure there are some bad apples, but aren't there bad apples in America too?
(psst, this is a bad apple)

Success is Boring
Traffic jams, waiting in lines, being shocked at the price of what ever it is that you're trying to buy. These are some of the things that nag at the average American. In Iraq these pesky problems are what we're trying to achieve. It's strange how your priorities and perceptions change when you've just been freed from a tyrannical dictator.
American, British and Iraqi forces fought pitched battles here in the fall of 2004, during a sweep of insurgents still loyal to Saddam's regime.

Today, the market is full of faces looking forward to peaceful and uneventful days.

“Before the American Army came to this area, it was full of insurgents and thieves and killers,” said Ali, who declined to give his full name.
Iraqi Logistics
Of the 268,000 ISF that have been trained and equipped, most of them are ground-pounders and trigger-pullers. Now that these guys are putting the smack down, the Iraqi government is taking the next step towards securing their independence from Coalition support. An army without a robust logistics support system cannot fight and the ISF are now moving towards building this system.

Untold Good News from Iraq
I stumbled across an article written by James Crum, the Director of the Iraq Project & Contracting Office (PCO), in which he addresses the good things that have been accomplished in support of the Iraqi population. A lot of the stuff in the article is stuff that I addressed in Winning in Iraq - Measuring Victory, but it's nice to hear it from an official government source. You can read the whole article in the comments section.

Iraqi Army Puttin' the Smack Down
There are several different operations that are referenced in this story and each shows how capable the Iraqi military is becomming. Each time the ISF get a tip, develop an operation, and execute it we take another step towards victory.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, killed five terrorists, wounded 13, and detained 47 during a two-hour firefight in Mahmudiyah South on July 21.

The 6th IA soldiers received a report from an Iraqi citizen that 10 to 15 men were attacking a house in Hayy Al Shuhada. The IA soldiers tracked the gunmen to the Hayy Al Askery neighborhood, where a small-arms battle ensued in which five terrorists were killed and the remainder fled the scene in a white truck.

The Iraqi soldiers followed the terrorists to a residence, whereupon the terrorists abandoned their vehicle. Attack helicopter aviators from Multinational Division Baghdad destroyed the vehicle. Iraqi soldiers detained six suspects who were hiding in a nearby canal and another three who were found by the crew of another military vehicle.

24 July 2006

Iraqi Polls

Thanks to a post by fellow milblogger Wayne of Savannah Daydreamin' I was able to find a recent poll that was conducted by the International Republican Institute. I'll post the highlights, but I'd encourage everyone to read the whole report.
(1 - Security, 2 - Infrastructure, 3 - Economic development, 4 - Withdrawal of Coalition Forces)

B36 News - 24 July 2006

It's Monday and B36 News is back at it. I've been thinking lately how the recent focus on Israel in the MSM is affecting their coverage of the war here in Iraq and I've come to the conclusion that not covering the immense progress that we're making here is better than inflating the setbacks.

One thing that not many people realize is that in any conflict there will be setbacks, but that doesn't mean all is lost or that the plan isn't working. Take your own life for example. I'm sure at some point that you had a plan for what you wanted to do with the rest of your days. At some point in your attempt to bring that plan to fruition, I'm sure you encountered something you didn't expect even though you should have. That's ok though, what's really important is how you respond to those setbacks. Did you abandon your goals and settle for something less? Or did you adapt your plan and continue to pursue your desired end-state?

The US military is not in the habit of abandoning its goals, its missions. We're not about to start.

And now, the good news from Iraq.

PM Maliki's Stockpile of 'Don't Quit'
PM Maliki enacted Operation Together Forward to secure Baghdad. A bit over a month later the insurgents and terrorists are fighting back, setting off car bombs and trying to fan the flame of sectarianism. Did we expect them to roll over and show us their fuzzy under-belly? How would you respond if your goals were being directly threatened? The bad guys are fighting back. PM Maliki is not throwing his hands up and saying, "There are too many bad men with guns." He's stepping up, adapting his plan, and achieving his goals. He's offering the carrot and wielding the stick. Lead on Mr. Prime Minister.
(Speaking of the reconcilliation plan) "This is an Iraqi initiative for those who are part of the political process," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said, adding that there was much interest in the initiative from people outside the process, including disaffected [former Iraqi] army officers.

This Is A Journalist
Hang on a second, I'm not insulting him. I'm just setting the bar high for all those pansies who sit on their derrier and send out Iraqi children to feed them news stories. The troop pictured here is a member of the 304th Moblie Public Affairs Detachment. This troop rolls in convoys with other troops and gets the straight story, first-hand. It's men and women like him that bring us all the good news.
Servicemembers who’ve been asked by the 304th to talk to the press have enjoyed the opportunity to clarify misconceptions about the Global War on Terrorism. “Many of them are thankful that we give them the ability to tell their story,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Coon, Non-Commisioned Officer In Charge. “They hear and see what is being said by the U.S. media, and are very grateful to have the ability to tell the American people that we are making a difference.
(full story by SGT Claude Flowers posted in comments)

Gaugamela Update
Operation Gaugamela is aimed at routing out terrorists in the vicinity of Kirkuk. You may recognize the name 'Kirkuk' as it was the site of a car bomb that killed about 20 and wounded close to 100 Iraqi civilians (I know I saw it on the news). What you won't hear (I didn't) is that this car bomb was set off as a counter measure to the effectiveness of this joint Iraqi & Coalition operation. Thus far, Operation Gaugamela has resulted in the capture of over 150 terror suspects, 350 rifles, and a lot of IED material. Attacking civilians is how terrorists respond to our success. They can't beat us, so they target civilians in the hopes that they will lose confidence in us and turn to them. This leads me to the next story.

Blame Where It's Due
I've become a reader of a blog called "Iraq the Model". It's operated by two brothers who live in Baghdad outside the IZ and is a great first-hand source for how the war is percieved from an Iraqi point of view. In the most recent post, Omar describes who he holds accountable for civilian deaths that are a result of sectarianism as well as a solution to the problem.
That's the direct way, the indirect way on the other and is that the violence they stirred left the US military with no choice but to attack at some cities and those attacks left a lot of collateral damage including the deaths of many Iraqis who were trapped in the crossfire of those battles like what happened in Fallujah or Ramadi or Mosul. Those civilians were mostly Sunni and al-Dhari is to blame for their death.

Although late, it was a bit of a relief to see Iraqi and US commanders planning to move more troops into the Baghdad area.
Read the whole thing and see if you agree with my assessment.

23 July 2006

Ask A Troop Sunday

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flies an American flag at the famous crossed sabers in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom III. Photo by HQ, 3rd ID Public Affairs

I've decided to give myself a break from B36 News on Sundays and I'll replace it with placing an open call for questions/comments/rants/etc. For those of you who resist the temptation to blab about how horrible we Americans are, here's your chance.

Ask A Troop Sunday will not be moderated or edited. This is where you can send me a question, make a statement, or whatever your heart desires. I'll do my best to fully answer any questions asked, but I won't violate OPSEC so if I tapdance around the answer don't be suprised.

Fire away!

22 July 2006

My Friend, Ali

I struggled with the decision to post this story. It's very personal and I still haven't worked through it all. I may just write this and save it so that I can get the thoughts out of my head.

Ali worked for the Facility Protection Service, a branch of the Iraqi Police that was responsible for securing fixed locations (ministries, infrastructure, hospitals, etc.). I met him while visiting the Crossed Swords monument here in the IZ.
A couple weeks before I went on R&R, Ali and I were talking and we discovered that both of our wives were pregnant and due to give birth at about the same time. We were both delighted and congratulated eachother making an agreement that when I returned we would exchange pictures of our kids. He asked if we had picked out a name and we had, but I didn't tell him because we were keeping it a secret until the birth. I would tell him my son's name when I brought him the picture.

A couple days ago, I had my picture in hand and went to meet Ali, give him the picture and tell him my son's name. When I arrived at the Crossed Swords I couldn't find him. I asked where he was, but the guy I asked didn't speak English very well so he had to act it out for me. He pointed while holding his thumb up imitating a pistol and shaking his hand saying "BANG" with each shake. After three bangs he dropped his arms to his side, closed his eyes, and let his head roll to one side.

Ali had been at home on leave for the birth of his third child when they shot him.

This is Ali. He was my friend.

My Son

I've recently been so caught up in the Winning in Iraq series that I stopped posting personal stories, but now that the whole series has been published I can start again.

What better way to start again than with one of my most favorite people in the world, my son, Mark. Mark is nearly a month old now and is with my wife back at home and through the magic of the internet, I'm lucky enough to be able to see him grow. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the last batch that my sweetie sent me.

B36 News - 22 July 2006

When you hear someone say "quagmire" or "failed policy", remind them that while the policy decision is made by politicians, the success or failure of that policy rests on the shoulders of the military. If the policy fails it's because the military failed. Ladies and gentlemen, this is simply not the case. Agree or disagree with the policy, but once the decision is made, help us make it happen.

Mine's Bigger
So it seems that terrorists were doing their dirty deeds, planting an IED when one of our F16 pilots spotted them. After recieving confirmation that these were, in fact, bad guys, this pilot showed them what a real explosive could do. Presto, three less terrorists!
"Our message is clear to those who continue to harm innocent civilians and attack coalition forces: if terrorists continue their activities, we will identify, track and take appropriate action to stop them," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Anthony Haynes, Combined Air Operations Center director.
Troops Support The Mission
A recent survey published in the Stars & Stripes shows that 76% of deployed troops feel that being in Iraq is "worthwhile". Now before this is spun in an attempt to say that "A quarter of US troops oppose the war", think about this. Those surveyed were deployed troops, and 3/4 of them believe that leaving the comfort and security of their families and homes is worth their time and the right thing to do. Leaving home, travelling to an unfamiliar place, being surrounded by strangers, some of whom are willing to kill themselves if it means killing an American, and risking life and limb is the right thing to do according to 75% of those who are doing it.

Operation Gaugamela
The leaders of the city of Hawija, ISF and Coalition troops have kicked off Operation Gaugamela designed to squash the terror attacks that have been targeting local ISF. So far the violence has been very limited even though 28 suspects have been captured along with a lot of weapons, ammunition and explosives.

21 July 2006

Winning in Iraq - The Way Ahead

(Part 5 of 5 in the series addressing the misconception that we're losing in Iraq. Also, you can download the entire paper in PDF format here.)

So what now? We're clearly winning the war. We're making documented and verifiable progress. Life is getting better for the average Iraqi. The terrorists are on the run. What do we do now?

We drive on. We strap on our body armor and go back at it. We keep filing reports and pushing paper. We keep doing what we're doing. And we get better at it. We keep accomplishing the mission.

Iraq has made and continues to make amazing progress towards building a stable democratic government that can manage a stable country. If the decision is made that there are too many bad men with guns than we are willing to deal with and we get sent home we will leave the developing Iraqi Security Forces to fend for themselves. We would have abandoned Iraq to terrorists and murderers.

We must stay the course. It's working. We're winning.

Yes there are still bad men who blow up innocent Iraqis and provide gruesome headlines with highly printable body counts that drown out the positive stories. Does that mean that we're losing? Does that mean that we should go home?

The terrorists know they can't win militarily. In large-scale combat they get their butt kicked every time. The people of Iraq see life getting better despite the terrorist attacks. The terrorists are losing what little popular support they had to begin with. So how are they going to beat us? How can they win?

They win if you quit.


If you don't quit, we win. Help us win. Don't quit on us.

B36 News - 21 July 2006

ISF Control Mosul FOB
A FOB is a Forward Operating Base, they're where we base our ground operations from. We've already handed over a bunch of them as the ISF assume responsibility for their area of operation and now we're getting to do it in Mosul. This is one step closer to Iraqis being able to operate independently of the Coalition.

Sorry, I ran out of time to write about the rest of the good news, but I'll link them here for your reading pleasure.

Dang old work!

Baghdad Crackdown

ISF Capture More Terrorists

20 July 2006

Winning in Iraq - Measuring Victory

(Part 4 of 5 addressing the misconception that we're losing the war in Iraq)

Now that victory has been defined, how are we achieving it?
  • On January 30, 2005, millions of Iraqis participated in their first free election, defying the threats of insurgents who sought to deny them their opportunity for democracy.

  • A constitutional referendum was held on October 15, 2005, with an 81% increase in voter turnout reported in Sunni majority provinces.

  • On December 15, 2005, roughly 12.4 million Iraqi voters went to the polls to elect a Council of Representatives. That's a voter turnout of over 79% in spite of the the threat of terrorist attack. Compare that to the 50% voter turnout in the last US presidential election where the biggest threat was a paper cut. Did you vote? I did.

  • Currently, over 268,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped.

  • Three divisions,18 brigades, and 71 battalions of the ISF now have lead security responsibility in their respective areas of operation. The ISF have security responsibility for 60 percent of Baghdad and for 30,000 square miles of the country. As of June 26, the MOD, MOI, or the Ministry of Finance has assumed control of 41 Forward Operating Bases from Coalition forces.

  • Security responsibility for the entire province of Muthanna, Iraq's second largest, has been transferred to Iraqi control.

  • As a result of intelligence captured after killing al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi much of his organization's senior leadership has been killed or captured.

  • The final cabinet positions for the Government of Iraq have been filled.

  • Currently, terrorist groups are negotiating for reconciliation with the democratically elected and constitutionally based Iraqi government.

  • Two thirds of Iraqis think that Iraqi Security Forces are beating terrorism.

  • According to a poll conducted in December, over 70 percent of Iraqis surveyed oppose the immediate withdrawal of American troops.

  • USAID is providing support to the Ministry of Trade to deliver more than 480,000 tons of food each month.

  • Over 4600 schools have been renovated, over 60,000 secondary school teachers have been trained and more than 8.7 million new school books have been distributed.

  • Health care funding has increased 30-fold since Iraq was freed from Saddam Hussein.

  • USAID has immunized 98 percent of children under 5 years old against measles, mumps, and rubella and 97 percent of children under 5 against polio.

  • Over 1,200 primary health clinics and 240 Iraqi hospitals are in operation.

  • 3.7 million more Iraqis have access to fresh water

  • 5.1 million more Iraqis have access to sewage treatment

  • The Iraqi dinar has maintained its value with only a 1% variation over the last year.

  • Oil production has exceeded pre-war levels by 15%

This is a short list of the strategic victory milestones that we've achieved here in Iraq. But since we're supposed to be losing this war, let's go over the list of strategic victory milestones that the terrorists have achieved:

  • According to polling data from the Pew Institute, less than half of the American public thinks that the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces are winning the war.

The good news is that they are beginning to lose on this front as well. Don't take my word for it, listen to what Zarqawi himself had to say about it. In a letter that was captured after Zarqawi was killed, he details how the Coalition and Iraqi Government are beating him, he goes on to talk about what the terrorists need to do to fight back. The very first thing on the top of his list?

"To use the media for spreading an effective and creative image of the resistance."

Let's continue to examine the rest of Zarqawi's comments in this letter, specifically the points he makes about how the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces are winning. Consider this Zarqawi's list of our accomplishments in Iraq. For the sake of brevity I'll paraphrase, but if you'd like to see the whole letter for yourself you can do so here.

  • The training and operational success of the Iraqi Security Forces

  • Coalition combat operations that capture/kill anti-Iraqi forces.

  • Increasing popular support for the new Government of Iraq.

  • Restricting terrorist's finances.

  • Creating division between terrorist groups.

  • Taking advantage of anti-Iraqi forces mistakes and showing them publicly. (An obvious reference to the video of him that was captured showing him unable to operate a US machine gun.)

Zarqawi went on to say that the situation is "bleak" and and is a "crisis". If the individual who was formerly the head of the largest terrorist organization in Iraq thinks that we're winning, why don't more Americans?

B36 News - 20 July 2006

A lot of bad news has been getting out lately in the main stream about the 'deteriorating security situation' in Baghdad. Allow me to give a new perspective on this perception through the application of good news.
Citizens of Baghdad Capture Bad Guys
I love this story because it exemplifies just how fed up Iraqis are with the bad guys and how well they're working with the ISF to help secure their neighborhoods. ISF supported by Coalition troops responded to a tip provided by a local Iraqi that bad guys were planning to attack a local police station. When the bad guys realized they had been found out, they put up a brief firefight, then tucked their tail and ran only to be stopped by four civilians.

Everyone Contributes
In a recent interview, BG Mundt tried to explain that no contribuition to the war effort is insignificant. His comments were aimed at troops who feel like they're not helping win the war, a common feeling among support troops who aren't patrolling the streets and shooting bad guys. I agree with him, but I don't think he cast a wide enough net. This doesn't just apply to troops, it applies to everyone everywhere. The middle school student who has an American flag sticker on his note book, the the church group who holds a bake-sale to send a troop a box of beef jerky, every American who pays taxes, all of these people help us fight and win the war.

Ops Roundup - Woman, 4 Children Spared
Summary of the summary: 4 terrorists killed, 34 captured. Among the captured was one particular terrorist who was stopped while in his truck with a woman, four children, mortar tubes, three mortars, and two directional charges. He was captured without incident and the woman and children were released.

Omar Coprs Leader Captured
The Omar Corps is a terrorist group that aims to inflame sectarian violence. The kicker - tips from civilians led the ISF to this terrorist. Iraqis can see that knuckle heads are trying to provoke them into a civil war and they're refusing to take the bait. As Dr. Mouwafak al-Rubaie put it:
“By joining efforts from our intelligence and our security forces, we were able to kill and capture those coward terrorist leaders. We will continue to destroy the terrorism and terrorists anywhere, regardless of any names they use to hide their identities and intention,” al-Rubaie said.

19 July 2006

Winning in Iraq - What Is Victory In Iraq?

(Part 3 of 5 addressing the misconception that we're losing the war in Iraq)

Allow me to start off this section by saying the following: Victory will not be achieved when we pull Coalition troops from Iraq. Removing troops from Iraq will be a product of victory, not a source of it.

So then what is victory? How will we know when we've achieved it? These questions may seem like pipe dreams, and under the tidal wave of negative news, unfortunately many people write them off as such. However, according to the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq which was published by the National Security Council in November 2005, this is not the case.

On page 1 of this document one can find the following:

Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages

  • Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.

  • Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.

  • Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.

Page 3 of the same document goes into further detail of exactly what each stage means. The point is, we have realistic and attainable goals that we are working towards so that we can achieve victory in Iraq. Nowhere in here is the mention of sending troops home.

Let me leave no doubt in anyone's mind about how this impacts me personally. On June 25th of this year, my wife had our first child. I was lucky enough to be home when the little guy made his way into the world. Shortly after getting my wife and son back out of the hospital I returned to Iraq to serve the remaining 5 months I have here. Keeping in mind that at any moment a mortar, rocket or stray bullet could find me and prevent me from ever being able to tell my son that I love him and hear him tell me the same; I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. I am helping win the war. I am helping achieve victory.

B36 News - 19 July 2006

Am I starting to repeat myself here? I'm finding so much good news that I'm having difficulty tracking which stories I've already posted here. The good news just keeps coming!

Innocent Iraqi Children Get Beanie Babies, Teddy Bears
There are a lot of groups and individuals that truly support the troops and our Iraqi allies and show their support by sending packages. This story shows what typically happens with the things that get sent over here to be distributed to Iraqi children.
In the town, the Soldiers dismounted from their vehicles holding plastic bags full of toys. As the children caught sight of the items, they quickly began to gather in the courtyard of the school building.

Two lines of neatly-dressed girls sang a song with clapping motions for the Soldiers, as the mayor of the town presented Green with a Kurdish flag.

After the preliminary ceremonies were over, the Soldiers lined up to hand out the toys. The children came on in a rush, hoping for one of the soccer balls, or perhaps a certain Beanie Baby or teddy bear.
(full story by 101st Airborne Diviision (Air Assault) PAO posted in comments)
GI Phone Home
This story is particularly rewarding for me personally. Marines stationed in Al Asad recently had the opportunity to talk with their families and friends over a video-teleconference (VTC) system. This is typical of the kind of work that my Soldiers do. My troops and I aren't out there patrolling the streets of Baghdad and training ISF, but knowing that we provide direct support to those who do is a very rewarding feeling.
"The call went great," said Staff Sgt. Dennis L. Burkeen, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of airframes maintenance, VMA-513. "Being able to see your family is as close as we can come to being with them."

The family members back home are as excited as the service members are about the VTCs.

"The VTC was awesome," said Alesha, wife of Burkeen. "It was really great to let my kids see their daddy again.
(full story by Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran, 3rd Marine AW (Fwd) posted in comments)
IA Assumes More Battlespace
For those who don't know, when we talk about 'battlespace' we're refering to responsibility for securing an area. It's a lot like jurisdiction for police back in the states. For example, a policeman from New Jersey can't write traffic tickets in New York because it's outside his jurisdiction. When ISF assume battlespace they're taking security responsibility for the area under their jurisdiction.
The four companies of the Iraqi battalion marched in front of the review stand which included Martindale, Lt. Col. James Rice, deputy commanding officer, 3rd HBCT, and Commanding General Abdul Jabar Salah Rabah, commander, Iraqi 4th Division.

“These days are the new days of Iraq,” Abdul Jabar said. “Soldiers, be happy for this day. The people of Al Dujayl are proud of what you did for their protection.”
(full story by Pfc. Paul J. Harris, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team posted in comments)

18 July 2006

Winning in Iraq - Why I'm Doing This

(This is part 2 of 5 in the series addressing the misconception that we're losing the war in Iraq.)

Prior to coming to Iraq, I was skeptical about the situation here. I had never been deployed before and I had only been on Active Duty for about a year and a half. All I really knew were the stories that I'd heard from the Soldiers who had already been here and from the news, both of which I took with a grain of salt. I always believed that we were doing a lot more good in Iraq than was being reported, but I had no way to verify that belief.

Upon arriving "in country", I was assigned to the International Zone (IZ) in Baghdad, also known as the Green Zone by the media. The IZ is home to the US Embassy and the Headquarters of the Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I). MNF-I is the brain that plans and organizes the war in Iraq. When President Bush says that he's conferring with commanders on the ground, he's talking about general officers in the IZ. Early in my deployment, I had the opportunity to sit in on several strategic briefings. Without going into details, let me say that after watching several of these high level briefings, I was impressed with the level of commitment to doing the good and right thing found at such a high level in the command. The focus that the Command Staff put on quality of life for the average Iraqi, along with the Command's attention to detail concerning the security situation and the progress on transferring total sovereignty back to the Iraqis, was impressive. I was and am shocked that this wasn't being portrayed in the media.

That wasn't enough to motivate me to do something about it, though. The event that finally spurred me into action was an interview on FoxNews in which an "expert" being interviewed said, "We're losing this war." I couldn't believe it. This American had just looked straight into the camera and told millions of other Americans that we in the military weren't doing our jobs. More importantly, he implied that my brothers and sisters in arms were getting shot and blown up for a lost cause.

I was irate. I nearly lost it. I had to restrain myself from putting my fist through the screen. This was my motivation for writing this article. Here was this chump in a suit and tie saying that we in the military weren't doing our job, and disrespecting the sacrifices made by so many.

Allow me to clarify this point. While I'm relatively certain that the intent of the comment was not to discredit the Coalition's efforts in Iraq, that was the effect it had. A person's motivation or intent for making this claim is irrelevant. We in the military have been given a mission and that is to win the war. When we're given a mission, we are expected and we expect to accomplish the mission, regardless of the obstacles in our way. For someone to imply, even indirectly, that we are failing to accomplish our mission, that we're losing the war, is not only offensive, it's wrong.

After calming down, I tried to think of his statement from a logical, factual standpoint. What could possibly make him think that we're losing the war? As I thought more and more about it, I realized that his apparent ignorance wasn't totally his fault. I concluded that he probably had never been to Iraq for any length of time and that he wasn't in contact with anyone who had been either. As a result of this conclusion, I determined that all he knew was what he saw on TV and read in the news, just like most of America and the rest of the world for that matter - just like I used to be.

I initially faulted MNF-I for not sharing their success stories with the media. I figured that, in an effort to maintain operational security (OPSEC) they were just keeping it all quiet. I began to search for as much good news as I could find, so that I could publish it on my blog to help it get better circulation, small as it may be. I didn't have to look far before I realized that MNF-I was, in fact, putting out TONS of information showing the progress that we're making here - pages and pages and pages of quantifiable data and positive news stories showing our progress.

This is when I came to my current conclusion that the blame lay squarely on the media. If one guy in the middle of Baghdad with nothing more than an internet connection and some spare time can find all this material, the 24-hour news channels and networks with all their resources certainly can as well. MNF-I was pushing this mountain of good news into the hands of the media and none of it was making the evening news.

I'm skating on the edge here. My goal is not to flog the mainstream media. My goal is to counter the tidal wave of negative reporting. This is the mission I have assigned to myself.

B36 News - 18 July 2006

Here's today's good news from Iraq.

Marines, ISF Build & Save Girls School
This is the kind of people we're fighting. An all girls school was one week from being opened and these nut-jobs try to blow it up. Thanks to the good guys the bomb was defused and there's now a full-time security force protecting the school.
"I want to thank the Coalition forces on behalf of all of the people of Karabilah for finishing the school very fast and for supporting the construction of a fine place," said Mohammed Ahmed Selah, mayor of Karabilah.

The mayor and the Marines agree that the school's neighborhood is relatively safe, although there is still the threat of IEDs, according to Bernier.

"The bomb was a last ditch effort by insurgents to destroy the progress we've made in this area," said Bernier.
Since arriving here four months ago, the Marines have seen a decrease in enemy activity. The Marines have also introduced the city to their new police force and have begun conducting security operations alongside policemen.
The Marines say local Iraqi security forces have made significant progress in the past few months by providing security and conducting several independent operations.

"We are capturing more of the bad guys with a higher level of expertise in IED-making and that leaves a lot of insurgents with minimal experience in making the bombs," said Bernier. "One guy blew himself up last week trying to plant an IED."
CF, ISF Kill 1, Capture 2, Preserve Mosque
This story is a round-up of several seperate operations over the past few days in which two terrorist leaders were captured and one was killed. One of the captured leaders was located at a Mosque in Baghdad and dispite a firefight, the Mosque was not damaged. We're winning and doing it kindly and gently.

ISF Checkpoint Captures Insurgent Leader
I've heard some complaints that checkpoints don't work. Here's an example of how ISF work with Iraqi civilians to catch bad guys. Oh yeah, there were no shots fired. Sounds an awful lot like a regular police action doesn't it?

Kidnapping Prevented, Cabbie Defuses IED
In another checkpoint success story, Iraqi Army troops prevented terrorists from kidnapping civilians from a marketplace near Baghdad. Seperately, two bad guys forgot their IED in a taxi after getting to their stop. Upon finding the bomb in the backseat of his cab, the driver cut the wires and called the Iraqi Army.

17 July 2006

Winning in Iraq - Introduction

(This is the first in a five part series addressing the perception that we're losing the war in Iraq.)

People have many different motivations for making the claim that we're losing the war in Iraq. Based on my research, I can only conclude that a large majority of the people who make this claim do so for reasons other than honoring our country or our new ally, Iraq, and that, more importantly, this claim is not based on the truth. Let me be more direct. People who say that America is losing the war in Iraq are lying.

As a Soldier, I don't care to comment on policy or politics. It is wrong for me to second guess an order or chip in my 2 cents worth whenever I think I know more than my leaders. Once I have assessed an order as legal, it's my duty to make sure that it happens whether or not I agree or understand why. It is my job to accomplish the mission.

As a Soldier, I do care to inform people who mistakenly think that we're not winning the war - people who say that we're not accomplishing the mission, people who say that we're doing a bad job. Unfortunately, many of these people have not read the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, which was published by the National Security Council in November 2005. This strategy describes the conditions that must be met in order to declare victory, and provides a plan to achieve those conditions. This is the guide for conducting the war in Iraq. This is where my mission comes from.

The war in Iraq is being won by Iraqi Security Forces and the Coalition despite what one may hear on the daily news. As for the violence that said news is fond of telling us all about, this violence is to be expected. It is the nature of conflict for things to get violent before they get peaceful. Without the threat and action of good men with guns, kindly asking the bad men to stop will accomplish nothing when they are so committed to their cause that they would gladly welcome death rather than allow those under their influence the simple freedoms like, for example, letting women vote or letting someone of a different religion worship openly. If we are to win in Iraq, these bad men must be killed or captured. By its very nature, this means violence. When you send good men with guns into neighborhoods to find bad men with guns, there is a very good chance that there will be violence. As these bad men are taken down, others like them will attempt to use the same tactics of brutality and intimidation in order to impose their tyrannical will, but they will also be taken down. As this cycle continues, we are faced with two options: The first is to say, "Enough! There are more bad men with guns than we are willing to deal with though we are able to", and we retreat back into the borders of our own country hoping that the bad men we had just been fighting don't come knocking on our door. The second option is to continue to train and work with the ISF to kill or capture the bad men with guns until THEY say "Enough! There are more good men with guns than we are willing or able to deal with", and make sure that these bad men never knock on anyone’s door again.

B36 News - 17 July 2006

Here's today's good news from 'downrange'.

This Guy's Got My Back
The Iraqi Army Soldier pictured here is one of the many troops that stands guard at one of the many entry control points to the International Zone. These are the guys who prevent badguys from getting into the IZ and blowing us up. It's troops like him that allow me to sleep soundly at night.
Written by Staff Sgt. Kevin Lovel, 363rd MPAD
BAGHDAD - Working together as a cohesive team, Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers, Iraqi army soldiers and private security company employees work at entry control checkpoints to provide safety and security for Baghdad’s “Green Zone.”

“Our mission is to provide safety for the local nationals (and IA and MND-B Soldiers). We try to keep terrorists out of the Green Zone. It’s pretty much a safe haven,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Matthews, infantryman, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, who works at an Entry Control Point near Forward Operating Base Prosperity side-by-side with his Iraqi counterparts.

“The main thing we do is to make sure people have proper identification and passports. We make sure they’re not bringing in suicide-vest improvised-explosive devices, vehicle-borne IEDs and weapons they’re not supposed to have,” said Matthews.

The MND-B Soldiers said one of the benefits of their jobs is the opportunity to interact with Iraqi citizens.

Spc. Sevillano Gonzalez, infantryman, 1st Bn., 12th Inf. Regt., 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., said he likes the fact that he “gets to see different faces and different attitudes. I get to know the Iraqi nationals more,” but acknowledges “every day is a stressful day.”

Gonzalez said his personal philosophy is to maintain a positive attitude despite the rigors of his job.
Soldiers Free Journalist
Soldiers attacked insurgents who they thought were preparing to dump a body. True to form, the bad guys ran away and left their 'corpse' for the good guys. As it turned out the corpse was actually a reporter from the Voice of America. I wonder if we'll hear about this from VoA.

Quick Thinking Interpreter
Man, this interpreter deserves a medal or something. Check this out, after a brief firefight:
Two dead terrorists were discovered near a ringing cell phone, officials said. An interpreter answered the phone and extracted the location of other suspects from an unidentified woman caller. Iraqi and U.S. soldiers later found a wounded terrorist. They provided first aid to the wounded man and requested a medical evacuation.
Hard-headed Marine
A couple days ago I posted a story about a Soldier who got shot in the head and survived. Here's another story about a Marine who did the same.
“I was running back across the street after we had confirmed that the IED we responded to was in fact not one, when I heard the shot,” said Lance Cpl . Kelvin J. Grisales, fire team leader and friend of Linck.

A single shot cracked through the air. Everyone jolted and not even Linck, who was hit, knew what happened.

“After the shot rang out, I remember hearing someone screaming ‘Man down, Man down,” Linck said. “I realized a second later that man was me, I was on the ground.”
(full story by Cpl Brian Reimers, RCT-5 posted in comments)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that stories like these help you realize just where your tax dollars are going. Every one of you who pays taxes in America contributed, small as it may be, to purchasing this troop's helmet and saving his life.

As a leader of troops, please accept my heart-felt thanks for doing your part.

16 July 2006

B36 Video News - Show #2

Featuring footage from the Secretary of Defense while at Camp Anaconda, previously unreleased and unedited footage from Osama bin Laden's latest tape, and operational updates from Ramadi and Mosul. Also, watch for our new sponsor!

B36 News - 16 July 2006

The second edition of B36 Video News will be published shortly. Until then, here's the good news!

This guy is a warrior. With several bullet holes in his body he signs up for more.
His platoon was on patrol when it surprised a group of terrorists preparing to attack a nearby checkpoint. The Soldiers came under intense automatic weapons fire from both sides of a road - some from as close as 15 feet away.

Caldwell ordered his Soldiers to engage the insurgents.

During the battle, Caldwell was shot through both forearms but continued to fight.

After the firefight he was evacuated to Forward Operating Base Falcon for emergency treatment.
Caldwell was then transported to the 10th CSH in Baghdad where Lt. Col. James Love, his battalion commander, and other members of his unit visited him.

"Sir, I was supposed to re-enlist today. I want to re-enlist before I leave," he said to Love.
The day before the patrol, he had asked a sergeant in his unit to schedule his re-enlistment ceremony to begin another six years of service.
Great Minds?
By an interesting coincidence I came across this story linked on the MNF-I web page titled, "Winning in Iraq", spooky huh. The article was written by a guy back in the states and does a good job of previewing my paper with the same title. Just for the record, I first began to work on my paper on 15 June 2006 and this article was published a day later on the 16th.

Japanese Public Opinion
The Japanese constitution strictly prohibits the government from deploying offensive combat troops. Dispite this, PM Koizumi deployed troops to the southern province of Muthanna which was recently transfered back into Iraqi control and now these troops are being sent home. A poll was conducted and it was found that 59% of the Japanese public thinks that sending troops to Iraq was the right decision.

Rifle Recovered
An M40A1 sniper rifle was recently recovered from a terrorist. The rifle once belonged to Marines from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 known as the "Magnificent Bastards" who were killed in action over two years ago and has since been in the hands of the insurgancy. That was until Marine snipers from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment shot and killed the terrorist who took it.
Marine snipers from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment shot and killed an insurgent sniper and spotter preparing to shoot at passing Marines, June 16. And the insurgents were going to use a stolen Marine sniper rifle for the attack.

That rifle – an M-40A1 – belonged to the “Magnificent Bastards” of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, a battalion within the Regimental Combat Team 5 family. It was taken by insurgents when a team of four Marines were killed in a rooftop outpost June 21, 2004 in Ramadi.

Nearly two years to the day, Sgt. Maj. James E. Booker, the battalion’s sergeant major during their tour in Ramadi, said the news “sends a chill down my spine.”
(full story by SGT Mark Oliva posted in comments)

15 July 2006

B36 News - 15 July 2006

Be on the look out for two things in the next few days:
  1. The next installment of B36 Video News is in production! You can expect to hear from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and we've even managed to get our hands on a new tape from Osama bin Laden. Also, rumor has it that we've now taken up a sponsor and will be airing our very first commercial. Who could this mysterious sponsor be?
  2. On Monday I plan to publish the first in my five part series titled, "Winning in Iraq". While I put a lot of effort, thought, and research into it, I also tried to keep it short and to the point. I'd also like to thank those who helped me review and edit this paper, you know who you are!

Just like the Coalition military in Iraq, the good news doesn't take weekends off. Hmm... maybe there's a connection there...

On with the good news!
Does MG Cichowski read B36 News???
Probably not, but a guy can dream can't he? When I was reading the news today I came across the headline referring to the Muthanna transfer. The headline was, "Official: 'One down 17 to go.'"
If you read the post I made on the 13th you'll notice that I closed the article with the same statement. Yeah, I know, it's not like I have a trademark on that kind of saying, but wouldn't it be cool if a GO (General Officer) took inspiration from my blog?
Anyway, this story continues to promote awareness of the transfer of security responsibility back into the hands of the Iraqis. To quote British MG Cooper,
“We came not as conquerors but as liberators. Multi-National forces will be available to you if you need help, but I don’t think that will be necessary.”
The Kinder, Gentler Assult on Ramadi
Yes, we are a kinder and gentler military. Remember Fallujah and how we whooped up on the bad guys? Well according to COL MacFarland, we won't have the opportunity to kick terrorist butt like we did then. No, his plan is to slowly infiltrate the city with ISF and set up small patrol bases as they go neighborhood by neighborhood. It's an interesting plan and so far it's working.

Staff Work
For most leaders in the military, being assigned to work in a staff position is akin to being reprimanded. Most of us would rather be with troops than on staff, but we all have to do our time. The day we make it back into the operations side of the house is a good day. However, without the staff, the ops guys couldn't do their jobs. This is a story about the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) for the 4th Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID).
Everyone working in the TOC has a part in the success of operations, said Capt. Nicholas Graham, fragmentary order coordinator, HHC, 4th BCT.

“The TOC basically consolidates all the information from all our different battalions,” explained Graham. “If there is an event that happens out in our battle space, or out on a convoy or patrol, all the information is reported to us here in the TOC and we act accordingly depending on the situation.”

“There is not one function that I can say is the TOC’s bread and butter. There are so many moving pieces and everything must fall into place in order for us to be successful,” said the native of Hanover, Ind.
(full story by PFC Jason Dangle posted in comments)
Operations Roundup
This is a good summary for some of the operations that took place in the last couple days. Let me try and summarize the summary:
  • 1 helo down, both pilots survive, returned to duty
  • Coalition forces (CF) killed 4 and captured 5 terrorists including a leader of the Umar Brigade in three seperate operations
  • ISF took out insurgents running fake checkpoints and captured 4 in two operations
  • Zero CF or ISF casualties
Blown Up, But Alive and Kickin'
The Soldiers pictured here were rolling through Salman Pak when their truck got hit by an IED. The truck came to rest upside-down with the gunner pinned under it. Thanks to quick action and good armor, everyone survived with 10 fingers and 10 toes, all still wiggling. This is how your tax dollars are saving American troops.

My Office

Here we have a picture of my office building. I work in the office second from the left. The rest of the offices are occupied by my Soldiers, my Commander and First Sergeant, and the civilians that we work with.
All totaled there are about 110 people that work here and I'd have to say that they all do an outstanding job. As the guy in charge I'm rarely confronted with problems or need to get involved with the day-to-day work. My involvement is usually limited to considering input from my Soldiers and civilians, making a decision, giving guidance, setting a deadline, and holding people accountable to the deadline. We've got a skilled and professional team here that gets the job done with very little management overhead. I'm very lucky to be a part of it.

14 July 2006

B36 News - 14 July 2006

Topping today's news is the lack of news from Muthanna. How is this good news? Think about it like this, the MSM let the transfer of security responsibility go largely unnoticed, or at best gave it far less play than it deserved. You'd think that you could trust the MSM to print any negative news comming from Muthanna in a heartbeat now that it's being touted as a success story. Ergo, no news from Muthanna is good news.
Cross Loading
Here's a story about how one battalion is solving the problem of convoy security. It's another story of how troops are getting the mission accomplished regardless of obstacles or situations.
“We don’t want to rely on combat arms to protect us; it takes them away from their mission,” said Sergeant 1st Class Mark Jordan, platoon NCOIC.

The platoon acts as protection for the combat logistics patrols and also performs duties as a quick response force. The QRF duties include being on call for all recovery missions and being prepared to respond quickly to a myriad of calls while on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Warrior. Platoon members are also trained in first aid and act as aide and litter teams.

Platoon members represent the many different military occupational specialties taken from the entire battalion, including refuelers, equipment operators, logistical specialists and medics.
(full story by Capt. Lyn Graves, 133rd MPAD posted in comments)
IA in Mosul Capture Terror Cell Leader
The Iraqi Army took over security responsibility for Mosul less than two weeks ago and they're already having an impact. Acting on tips provided by civilians, the IA captured six members of this cell including the leader. This is an example of how Iraqi civilians trust their military and are willing to work with them to get rid of terrorists. This is how we're winning.

Soldiers Save Innocent Wounded Iraqi Woman
While attending college classes, this woman was injured by shrapnel from a terrorist mortar. Though the injuries were minor, a previous case of lupus infection prevented the injury from healing and the woman's condition continued to deteriorate. This is when she was brought to the gate of FOB Rustamiyah in the hopes that the Soldiers there would be able to help. Not only was her life saved, but it was done in a manner that would accomodate her cultural norms by having only female Soldiers attend to her. But I guess since she survived it's not considered newsworthy by the MSM.

VBIED Attack Prevented
Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, or VBIEDs, are more simply known as car bombs. Recently in Baghdad, Soldiers came upon two guys who were digging next to a van. Before the Soldiers could investigate, the two men jumped in the van and took off leaving behind various VBIED making materials. But that didn't matter. Not long after running from the ground troops, the van was spotted by a helicopter and subsequently blown up by an EOD team.

BAGHDAD — A Soldier from Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, silhouettes against a blur of Baghdad city lights as he keeps vigil by the cargo door of a flying CH-47 Chinook helicopter June 19. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Rodney Foliente, 4th Inf. Div. PAO)

My Bunker & My Boy

*** Self imposed edit here. I started to debate whether it was a good idea to show the picture of the bunker and I figured that having to think about it was indicator enough that I shouldn't.***

I also just got in a new round of baby pictures!

13 July 2006


Finally an official CENTCOM release regarding Muthanna!

Joint Statement by
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
and Gen. George Casey
On the Transfer of Security Responsibility in
Muthanna Province

July 13, 2006

BAGHDAD – Iraq witnessed a historic event today with the transfer of security responsibility in Muthanna Province from the Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) to the Provincial Governor and civilian-controlled Iraqi Security Forces. The handover represents a milestone in the successful development of Iraq’s capability to govern and protect itself as a sovereign and democratic nation. Muthanna is the first of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be designated for such a transition.

As Prime Minister Maliki announced on June 19, 2006, the joint decision between the Iraqi government and MNF-I to hand over security responsibility is the result of Muthanna’s demonstrated abilities to take the lead in managing its own security and governance duties at the provincial level. The transition decision also reflects a joint assessment of the overall threat situation in Muthanna, the capabilities of the ISF there and the provincial leadership’s ability to coordinate security. Transition teams are in place to smooth the transfer process and multi-national forces will stand ready to provide assistance if needed.

With this first transition of security responsibility, Muthanna demonstrates the progress Iraq is making toward self-governance. Several other provinces are close to meeting the criteria necessary to assume security independence. The Iraqi government and the Multi-National Force will continue to transfer security responsibilities in other provinces in Iraq as conditions are achieved.

Australian, Japanese, and the United Kingdom forces have assisted Muthanna authorities as models of international cooperation, providing economic and humanitarian assistance as well as security and stability. As Iraq develops and its needs continue to evolve, so too will the nature of international assistance to Iraq in Muthanna and elsewhere.

The United States will provide $10 million in order to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Muthanna as they take a bold and courageous step forward in the country’s movement toward an independent and secure nation. This event represents significant progress by the Government of Iraq to achieve a constitutional, democratic, and pluralistic Iraq which guarantees the rights of all citizens.
I've been saying it for almost a month now! - More Progress